A college "professor of peace" accused of teaching support for Hamas has been suspended from his tenured post at an ultra-liberal school as allegations he once ran a sex-for-grades scheme came to light. The professor's suspension followed years of campaigning from Iranian American activists who sought to hold Mahallati accountable for crimes against humanity.
Iranian citizen Mohammad Jafer Mahallati — who has called for the elimination of Israel and backed the murderous fatwa against Salman Rushdie — was discreetly put on "indefinite administrative leave" by Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio and scrubbed from its website last month. News of his ouster comes as allegations have surfaced stemming from a lawsuit accusing Mahallati of sexual harassment.
The college is currently being investigated by the federal Department of Education after a complaint that it abused the civil rights of Jewish students by allegedly letting Mahallati speak in favor of Hamas and give credit for writing anti-Israel screeds.
The move by Oberlin to suspend Mahallati, 71, comes amid mounting fury at colleges' failure to grapple with antisemitism in the wake of the October 7 massacre of 1,200 Israelis by terrorist group Hamas.
The presidents of Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania faced demands to resign from a billionaire donor Wednesday and criticism from the White House after telling Congress it "depends on the context" as to whether students could demand the genocide of Jews.
Mahallati's suspension came after court papers surfaced from the 1990s which revealed that when he was an adjunct professor at Columbia University, he had been accused of giving a graduate student 11 years his junior good grades in return for sex.
The papers, given to The Post by the Middle East Forum, showed that Columbia and Mahallati had both been sued by the woman, who The Post is not naming, accusing him of allegedly worked to damage her reputation and academic future after she reported his alleged sexual abuse to school authorities.
Mahallati had denied the claims in 1997 but did not respond to a request for comment from The Post. Columbia denied the allegations at the time.
The woman, then 32 and a Palestinian Christian, met Mahallati, a 43-year-old married father of a young son, when she began to minor in Middle East Studies in September, 1995, she alleged in court papers.
She alleged that under the pretense of interviewing her as a potential research assistant, Mahallati invited the student to his home, "made repeated sexual advances" and promised good grades in exchange for sexual encounters, which allegedly took place at his office as well as his Manhattan apartment for 15 months.
Mahallati allegedly told the woman that he would withhold her grade if she did not keep silent. She alleged that when she went to Columbia's administration in April 1997 he accused her of handing the same paper in twice, which would have been fraudulent.
When she sued, court records show that he tried to claim diplomatic immunity with a Dec. 1, 1997, letter from Iran's Permanent Mission to the United Nations appointing him "'Special Advisor in Political Affairs' with full diplomatic and political privileges."
He had been Iran's ambassador to the United Nations between 1987 and 1989 and Columbia submitted a letter from the State Department to prove he was not immune from being sued for what he was accused of doing after 1989. The case was settled in 1998.
Andrea Simakis, a spokeswoman for Oberlin, told The Post he was placed on leave on Nov. 28 and declined to comment further. It is unclear exactly when the college learned of the 1990s claims against Mahallati.
"We take all allegations of sexual harassment and abuse extremely seriously," said Simakis. "We would not hire a faculty member who we knew to have a history of sexual harassment of a student, colleague or staff member."
At Oberlin, Mahallati became the subject of a federal probe this fall when the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights revealed that it was investigating a complaint that he taught students "support for Hamas and terrorism" as part of a larger probe into anti-Semitism on Oberlin's campus."
The probe, which was opened on September 29, was prompted by a complaint filed in 2019 by Oberlin College graduate Melissa Landa. Landa, who graduated Oberlin in 1986, is president of the Oberlin Chapter of Alums for Campus Fairness, a non-profit that works to end antisemitism.
She sent the department a dossier of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel incidents between 2014 and 2017, including that Mahallati told his classes in 2016 that "Israel is a colonialist state" and "an apartheid state."
Oberlin said in November that it "abhors antisemitism" and said of Mahallati: "Professor Mahallati has stated that he believes in the right of all people to exist in peace and endorses a two-state solution that would allow the people of Israel and Palestine to peacefully coexist."
The Alliance Against Islamic Republic of Iran Apologists (AAIRIA), a group of Iranian anti-regime activists whose family members were executed by the Islamic Republic, were instrumental in securing Mahallati's ouster and helped bring to light the professor's alleged sexual misconduct. AAIRIA was part of a three-year campaign to hold Mahallati accountable for covering up Iran's mass murder of 5,000 political prisoners in 1988 when he was Iran's ambassador to the United Nations.
It said in a statement: "This action comes as a result of tireless advocacy and stark revelations about Mahallati's involvement in covering up human rights abuses and his antisemitic rhetoric."
In addition to Columbia and Oberlin, Mahallati has also taught at Georgetown and Princeton.
Isabel Vincent, a graduate of the University of Toronto, is a reporter for the New York Post and is the author of seven non-fiction books. Benjamin Baird is the Director of MEF Action, and advocacy project of the Middle East Forum.